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Key Issues Nuclear Weapons History Pre Cold War White House Meeting

Minutes of Meeting Held at the White House on Monday,
18 June 1945 

MR. STIMSON thought there was a very large chance. He agreed with the plan proposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that being the best thing to do, but he still hoped for some additional means to be found through efforts that could be made from the outside.

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THE PRESIDENT then asked for Mr. Forrestal's views

MR. FORRESTAL pointed out that even if the decision were to be a siege of Japan for a year or a year and a half, that the capture of Kyushu would still be essential. Therefore, the sound decision is to proceed with the operation against Kyushu. There will still be left time thereafter for the main decision, which can be made in the light of subsequent events.

MR. McCLOY said he felt that the time was propitious now to study closely what efforts could be brought to bear in bringing out the influence of the submerged group in Japan which had been referred to by Mr. Stimson.

THE PRESIDENT stated that one of his objectives in connection with the conference would be to get all the assistance from Russia in the war that was possible. To this end he wanted to know all the decisions that he would have to make in advance in order to occupy the strongest position possible in the discussions.

ADMIRAL LEAHY said that he could not agree with the opinion

of may who said to him that unless we force the Japanese into unconditional surrender that we will have lost the war. He feared no menace from Japan in the reasonable future, even if we were unsuccessful in forcing unconditional surrender. What he feared was that our insistence on unconditional surrender would simply result in making the Japanese desperate and thereby result in large casualties. He did not think that such a result was necessary.

THE PRESIDENT stated that he had that thought in mind when he had left the door open for Congress to take appropriate action with reference to unconditional surrender. However, he did not feel that at this time it was possible for him to take any action with reference to public opinion on this matter. He said with reference to Kyushu plan that he considered it all right from the military standpoint and, as far as he was concerned the Joint Chiefs of Staff could go ahead with it; that we could do this operation and then make decision as to the final action later.

The conversation then turned on the situation in China. 

GENERAL MARSHALL stated that General Wedemeyer's operation were pointing towards Canton. He thought it was already evident that the Japanese would hold fortress troops there and in other places it might be necessary to go around these fortress

troops as had been done in France or to take other courses with reference to them.

In reply to a question from the President, GENERAL MARSHALL outlined the present status of Chinese divisions with respect to completenessof personnel and equipment. He said the prospect with respect to the ability of the Chinese generals were not very good. He had already asked General Wedemeyer whether it would be possible to use with the Chinese troops one or more of the U.S. Army commanders with their staffs who were now returning from France. General Wedemeyer's reply, while not conclusive, had been, in general, favorable. General Marshall thought that if the Generalissimo would effect the use of these commanders for control of Chinese groups, that it would be a very excellent thing.

THE PRESIDENT then inquired as to the prospects of an overall commander in the Pacific, which he thought would be a good thing.

Both GENERAL MARSHALL and ADMIRAL KING explained that under the circumstances existing in the Pacific with the variety of troop to be operating there, with the number of nations involved, that they thought there were no prospects for it. As was pointed out, it was undesirable to accept divided command with the British and that we would lose more than we would gain if we brought about

in the Pacific the same condition as had existed in France.

GENERAL MARSHALL stated the American commander would always have to think of his government's policies. In connection with this, he recounted the difficulty obtaining British agreement in Malta to General Eisenhower's plan for the invasion of Germany. Their reluctance in the matter was due to their belief that General Eisenhower must be influenced by the American commanders.

THE PRESIDENT said that it was simply his idea to find out whether an over-all commander for the Pacific would be an advantage or a liability.

GENERAL MARSHALL said that from the large point of view there was no question about this being a liability.

In connection with the British participation in the Pacific, General Marshall said that the President would find the Prime Minister very articulate. He is interested in showing that the British Government has played a full part in the defeat of Japan and that it had not been necessary for them to wait for the United States to recapture Singapore for them. The Americans, of course, were glad to have any real help or any assistance that would help strike a real blow but that British participation in some way would constitute an embarrassment. However, the British were under American over-all command in the Pacific.

He stated that the British wanted the Australians to take over as far as the Celebes. The Australians wanted to take over their own

Mandated Island area (check with Planners). The Australian Deputy Prime Minister had recently conferred with the Joint Chiefs of Staff as to the Australian role in the war and that the British had suffered some embarrassment because they have not yet been able to agree definitely with the Australians.

THE PRESIDENT referred to the Portuguese participation in the Southwest Pacific and stated that he wished to get the air program definitely settled with the Portuguese before we do anything more about Timor.

THE PRESIDENT reiterated that his main reason for this conference with the Chiefs of Staff was his desire to know definitely how far we could afford to go in this operation. He had hoped that there was a possibility of preventing an Okinawa from one end of Japan to the other. He was clear on the situation now and was quite sure that the Joint Chiefs of Staff should proceed with the Kyushu operation.

With reference to operations in China, GENERAL MARSHALL expressed the opinion that we should not seek an over-all commander in China. The present situation in which the Generalissimo was supporting General Wedemeyer, acting as his Chief of Staff, was entirely satisfactory. The suggestion of the appointment of an over-all commander might cause some difficulty.

ADMIRAL KING said he wished to emphasize the point that regardless of the desirability of the Russians entering the war, that they were not indispensable and that he did not think we should go to any great lengths in begging them to come in. While the cost of defeating Japan would be greater, there was no question in his mind but that we could handle it alone. He thought that the realization of this fact should greatly strengthen the President's hand in discussing matters with the Russians.

ADMIRAL LEAHY read a telegram in which General McNarney had recommended that the reinstatement of supplies to the French take place after the French withdrawal from northern Italy.

THE PRESIDENT stated that he agreed with General McNarney's recommendations and felt that he should be supported.

THE PRESIDENT expressed his appreciation of the results of his conference with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said this cleared up a great many points in his mind and that he now felt satisfied and reassured.

Original at:  http://www.whistlestop.org/

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